Study says Florida's policies are the biggest obstacle in increasing voter turnout


A new report from the left-leaning Center for American Progress details how Florida could boost its election season voter turnout in coming years.

The study, titled "Increasing Voter Participation in America: Policies to Drive Participation and Make Voting More Convenient," points to policies such as automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, pre-registration, online registration, at-home voting, "no-excuse" absentee voting, restoring voting fights to felons and early voting as means of maximizing turnout from the state's constituents.

However, according to CAP authors Danielle Root and Liz Kennedy, Florida only takes advantage of four of the aforementioned policies – pre-registration, online registration, "no-excuse" absentee voting and early voting – leaving hundreds of thousands of Floridians' votes hanging out to dry every election season.

In fact, the authors continue, with the implementation of an automatic voter registration system, or AVR, meaning only those who de-register would have their names removed off of state voters rolls, the Sunshine State would immediately add 575,000 new voters. The CAP draws that estimate by comparing data from the state of Oregon's AVR system.

And: As if it's news in light of the push for Florida to lift its policy of disenfranchising convicted felons, citing figures from The Sentencing Project, the study's authors conclude that the state has the ability to enfranchise more than a quarter million people by simply reinstating the right to vote back to former inmates. That figure is about four times higher than the state with the net-most voters to gain, too.

At present, the above – giving felons the right to vote – is the most likely to succeed on the legislative level, in that the voting rights restoration process will be on the ballet in November. As for the other ideas, who knows?

Of course, though, policies in their own aren't enough to get folks marching out to the polls come election season. It takes a multitude of factors.

"Strong civics education and integrated voter engagement programs can help to address widespread alienation by connecting voting to the issues that affect people's lives, by demystifying government, and by educating people on the electoral process and inviting them to participate," the authors write.

Read the CAP's full study here.

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